January 27, 2023

Athens News

News in English from Greece

800,000 illegal firearms in the hands of the people of Greece

7 out of 10 purchased online – at least 2 out of 10 Greeks have guns legally or illegally, older people purchase guns and ammunition for self-defense.

“How many guns are in our homes? How many guns are circulating among us?” asks Maria Murelatu, author of the publication. TaNea (News). This is what Internet users are asking themselves after each new incident involving gun ownership and use. Like the recent murder (3/12) of a 19 year old woman in Piraeus with a firearm illegally owned by her 25 year old partner.

Previously, 2 pistols were found in possession of Mihos (legally), and the pistol of an unknown “holy father” was found in a box in the Kalamata building of the “Ark of Peace”. On December 2, actor Yannis Stankoglu reported that a taxi driver threatened him with a gun at Syntagma, and several firearms were used in recent clashes between Roma and police. And just yesterday, a 16-year-old teenager shot himself at his home in Paleo Faliro with a pistol legally owned by his father.

In response to an inquiry to the Hellenic Police (EL.AS) from NEA, they replied that, “for reasons of national security, the number of legally circulating weapons in Greece cannot be disclosed.” However, according to information obtained from studies on the subject, there are an estimated 2,000,000 weapons in circulation in Greece. Of these, 800,000 are illegal weapons in the hands of persons who have not registered them anywhere, and the remaining 1,200,000 are legal (pistols, hunting rifles, etc.).

Approximately 2 out of 10 people gun ownership in the country, however, gun ownership in Greece remains low compared to other countries (Cyprus – 34 guns per 100 inhabitants, Finland – 32 guns per 100 inhabitants) and, of course, with the USA (120 guns per 100 inhabitants). Another issue is that half of these weapons are illegal, in contrast to the countries mentioned above.

According to the Greek Police, “Licenses to own and carry weapons in Greece are issued mainly for the following purposes: hunting, shooting (to shooting clubs or shooters), personal security, protection of premises and people (with a license to own a security officer, license to carry for security guards), and collection (of active or deactivated weapons).According to official data from the National Police, the total number of weapons seized for criminal offenses using weapons as tools in the four-year period 2019-2022 is 8629 units.

In details: in 2019, 2,221 weapons were seized, in 2020 – 2,167 weapons, in 2021 the number of seized weapons reached 2,316, recording an increase, and in the first 9 months of 2022, the number of seized weapons has already reached 1,925 weapons.

Weapons for self-defense

Georgios Stamatopoulos, owner of the ELLAS gun shop on Omonia, stresses the need for an immediate ban on the sale of guns via internet sites, as he explains there is no way to control who gets guns and for what reason.

“70% of gun purchases today are made online and 30% in physical stores where you can get more information about the person requesting the gun. Sites should only exist for browsing, not buying guns,” he explains, pointing out that interest in “non-lethal” weapons (rubber guns, gas pistols, pneumatic pistols, aerosol cans with tear and paralytic composition) increases annually by 5%-10%, especially from “vulnerable” groups, such as the elderly, residents of remote areas and women which is, of course, illegal. At the same time, over the past 2 years, the demand for animal attack sprays has increased dramatically from the elderly or those who are afraid, for example, of large dogs running around the area as pets.

The police cannot be everywhere. The security vacuum in the neighborhoods is forcing people to turn to guns for self-defense. There is also Greece, which starts from Omonia and extends to Ethnica. Do you know how many grandmothers ask for guns or gun cartridges they already own because they feel insecure in their homes?“, – he notes, saying that the situation with gun ownership can be summed up in one word – “chaos”.

The main problem is state prohibitions

One of the reasons for the reluctance of the population to declare illegal weapons is the regulatory framework of the criminal code, which, in fact, declares a complete state monopoly on violence. This means that self-defence is punishable by the penal code, except for the rare individuals who get the right to do so.

The situation is exacerbated by the low efficiency of the police, as well as the fact that criminal elements and some ethnic groups, in particular the Roma, completely ignore the ban on weapons.

As a result, the inhabitants of Greece are faced with a choice: to be robbed and possibly killed by robbers, or go to jail for self-defense using illegal firearms. As shown by the above data, the population chooses own life.

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